Internet Messenger services are great for keeping in touch with friends and family but they do come with their own unique set of risks. Internet Messenger services include the likes of Microsoft’s MSN, trillian, IRC, AIM, etc. A common scam doing the rounds at the moment that utilises instant messenger technology revolves around a friend sending you an instant message. This will contain a link and some sort of incentive type comment to get you to click on it. A lot of people will fall for this one – after all, it was their friend who suggested this link wasn’t it?
Come on, you should know by now that such things can be spoofed! So what happens when you click on the link? Well, that is a cue for your computer to download a whole host of malware. This malicious software will attempt to damage and infect your computer, much like a Trojan or a virus would. Beyond your control, your computer will then log itself into IRC (internet relay chat) and will start responding to commands from its author, for example, being directed to more malware. From this point on it is now an easy task for the malware author to go rummaging through the contents of your computer’s hard drive and memory, looking for personal information, bank details, etc.
Also, the malware will more than likely access your email and instant messenger contact lists and will then send a link in a message to all your friends and associates. Just the same as the instant message you received in the first place! The best cure for this problem is prevention – don’t click on instant messenger links, even if from friends, unless you have an alternative means of verifying they are genuine.
Keep a quality firewall running at all times and install anti-virus and then keep your definitions up to date. If you do think you have been infected with malware already then the best options are to run your anti-virus program and also to search for adware. Even so, it may be too late as malware often hides all over the registry, necessitating a full format to completely purge from your system.